Replicator Tuesdays is an article series appearing on InsideGMT. It features insights into the development of the 2nd expansion for the board wargame Space Empires:4x by Jim Krohn. Here the designer, developer and play testers will share their thoughts and experiences on this upcoming expansion. Since there is much crossover between the Space Empires and Talon development teams, both Space Empires and Talon articles will be featured in this series.
Issue #36: Advanced Ship Development, Part Three – Other Ships
This article continues the discussion of the Advanced and X Units that were added to the game in Replicators. New ships and techs are about 25% of this expansion and this series looks at the new ships one by one.
The last unit that did not require extra counters is the Advanced Base. This is a Base that can be built in Deep Space as long as you can trace a Pipeline Chain back to one of your colonies from the hex that you built the Base. This was based on a suggestion from Bob Seifert late in the playtesting process for Close Encounters. Jim said he liked the idea, but that we did not have time to playtest it for that module. I kept a note of that in the back of my head and proposed that we try and add it to Replicators. I added the ability for an Advanced Base to mount Scanners when I was thinking that it would take 2 Scanner equipped units to void the cloak of an RX. Though Jim removed that requirement from the RX rules he left the Scanner upgrade on the Advanced Base.
Next up are the MinerXs. Jim told me that sometimes on large maps he runs out of Miners and wanted to add some more counters to the game. Once he decided that he asked me what I thought about allowing the MinerXs to automatically upgrade to whatever Movement and Terraforming Technology the player had researched. I thought that would prove useful and would help set them apart from the existing Miners so we went with that.
The Advanced Flagship came about after I had seen normal Flagships being targeted as the easiest thing to kill after a round or two of combat in late game battles. We had a few counters still not locked down and I asked Jim if he was agreeable to use 4 of them to represent an Advanced Flagship. I asked that the design have a higher base defense than 1 and that it be A rated. I also suggested that when your normal Flagship was refitted to the Upgraded version you could change the two Unique Ship Abilities that it had. Jim came back with the A5-3X3 design and the ability to add one more Unique Ship Ability to the hull. I was actually surprised/pleased that he went with the firepower increase as I just wanted the ship to be more survivable by giving it a higher defense and allowing it to retreat earlier. I thought that he would reduce its firepower to 3 and just give its defense a boost to 2. Of course you still have to be careful with your normal Flagship as it is required to be refitted for the Advanced Version and the Advanced Version is not available until you have researched Advanced Construction 3. This means that your Advanced Flagship is not going to be showing up till around the time that you could build Titans in Close Encounters.
With a few more counters still not locked down Jim asked Bob Seifert and me if we had any more ideas for another one off unit. I did not have one in mind, but I reminded Jim that at one point during the counter layout for Close Encounters, he wanted to include a 7th SC counter. Jim thought that would be a good idea if we could give it some sort of extra boost. I thought about proposing to allow this counter to be built at a colony without requiring a Ship Yard. You could only build one SC that way, but you could produce a ship in an area of the map that you did not have a Ship Yard at. It might prove useful as a tripwire to slow the enemy down for a turn while your other ships moved to that part of the map. Before I made that suggestion, Jim came back with the SCX-7 being equipped with 3 Levels of Movement Technology above what you had researched. I thought that would about match my idea of building that ship where you usually could not with fewer questions from the players as to how this was possible and Jim’s proposal would allow you to build a bigger group of them than my idea.
One thing that Jim did when he really started looking at my proposal for a lot of these Advanced/X units was to combine them into one Tech Tree. I had that the DDX was available once you had researched Ship Size 5 and Advanced Construction 1, which I had at 40 CPs. For RaiderXs you had to research Cloak 2 and Advanced Construction 1. So if you had only researched RaiderXs and now wanted to build DDXs you would still have to research Ship Size 2-5 even though you had researched Advanced Construction. Jim combined the separate research paths that I had created into one path that allowed us to put units that were not definitely on one path or another into the Advanced Construction Tech Tree. Now the requirement to unlock Advanced Construction 1 is simply to have built a BC in a previous Economic Phase.